Meet Up

9

I arrive today in Elk Grove, Illinois to get ready for the Chicago Seminars tomorrow.

MileValue has a sponsor’s table for the Chicago Seminars, so I’ll be easy to find all weekend. Drop by to talk to me about:

  • miles
  • points
  • award booking
  • solo travel
  • college basketball
  • Airbnb
  • Buenos Aires
  • Hawaii
  • Colombian and Argentine slang
  • improv comedy
  • free one ways
  • credit cards
  • 23 hour layovers
  • Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
  • Nathan for You
  • cliff jumping in Dubrovnik
  • United’s Island Hopper
  • anything else

If that’s not a big enough draw, I will print a dozen of my favorite travel photos from this year, and they’ll be displayed on a 5th-grade-era tri-fold poster board at the table.

Still not convinced?

I’ll have a few resource reference sheets at the table. These will include All the Credit Cards that Earn Each Type of Mile and the Credit Card Application Bible. Take them home to help you keep a lot of miles-and-points info straight in one place.

Still not convinced?

Candy. Come by for a sweet snack.

Still not convinced?

Well then there’s no convincing you. 😉

I’ll be at the table tomorrow as soon as I can set it up in the afternoon. Registration starts at 4 PM. On the weekend, I’ll be at the table from 10 AM on.

Where else will you find me?

If I’m not at the table, I’m probably eating or watching a presentation. Or Friday night, I’ll be at the hotel bar with tons of other attendees and speakers. Come by and have a drink (or water) with us. On Saturday night, I predict that I go out to dinner with a group of attendees like I have for the last few years. Ask around to see who’s going to eat where and invite yourself along.

Anywhere you see me, you should say “Hi!” I’m here to meet you. This goes for every person there including presenters and attendees. Everyone would be happy to let you into their group to join the discussion. I know newbies will feel intimidated and will think everyone already knows each other (this goes doubly so for introverted newbies), but ignore that voice in your head and start a conversation. Here are some other spot on tips for maximizing the Seminars from Sharon who runs the raffle.

My Presentation

On Saturday from 5:15 PM to 6:15 PM, I will give a presentation titled “Round-the-World Trips Since the Death of RTW Awards.” It’s going to be a presentation about using miles to take really big trips, not just your standard roundtrip to Europe. I hope to see you there, but if not I’ll post the slides online.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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0

The Google Flights team hosted a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on June 9, 2015. Here is a link to the full, completed AMA.

Many, many questions were about ITA Matrix, which Google owns. Here’s why ITA Matrix is awesome, and what you can do with it. I’d summarize the answers to those questions as, “We like ITA Matrix, so we’ll do basic maintenance work on it, but we don’t plan on improving it or putting its awesome features into Google Flights any time soon.”

Did any questions or answers catch your eye?

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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0

Registration for the 2015 Chicago Seminars is now live as of noon ET. Click here to register. As in past years, it costs $100 and there are 500 spots.

The seminars will take place from 5 PM on Friday October 16 until 4 PM on Sunday October 18 at the Holiday Inn Chicago — Elk Grove, which is NOT in the city but near O’Hare. That’s convenient for 4,500 to 7,500 Avios flights from much of the country.

I will be speaking at the Seminars. The topic is to be determined, but you can bet it will have to do with redeeming miles. Here are the slides from my two presentations last year on The Southwest Companion Pass and Trick Awards.

The event and the hotel will sell out–already 70 spots are gone in the first 20 minutes. I recommend booking both as soon as possible if you want to attend. (Not staying at the hotel will be a lot less fun.)

Here’s a thread about last year’s Chicago Seminars to let you know what to expect. What I expect is meeting a lot of you, impromptu dinners and drinks to which everyone standing in the lobby is invited, and learning a few new things from presentations.

I leave you with this gem from my first Chicago Seminars in 2012, with Mommy Points.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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7

The Chicago Seminars start today, just outside O’Hare. I got in yesterday morning, and I’ve been putting the final touches on my two presentations.

If you’re around, please say hello!

As a quick PSA: first timers sometimes think these events are a bit clique-y. Those “cliques” you think you see, though, are mainly made up of people who met at this very event or at a previous one, and they are very welcoming. Just say hello. This goes doubly for all the speakers and bloggers, who are uniformly very approachable.

Here’s my schedule for the weekend:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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14

On Sunday, I hosted a MileValue dinner in Los Angeles. Unfortunately there was a “Korean Agriculture & Marine Product Expo” across the street, which severely limited parking and caused some people to miss the dinner.

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I’ll share five tips I gave to attendees. I wouldn’t classify any as secrets, but most of them were unknown to people who, in some cases, have redeemed hundreds of thousands of miles, so the tips might be pretty useful for your next award booking.

1. AeroMexico to Mexico City, Central America, and South America

Including seasonal destinations, AeroMexico serves 13 American destinations from Mexico City.

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AeroMexico has excellent award space to Mexico, Central America, and South America that can be booked with Delta SkyMiles of Air France Flying Blue Miles and can be searched at airfrance.us.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership.

ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 to Flying Blue miles. You can book a trip from the United States to Mexico City for 15,000 Flying Blue miles each way.

  • What were the other four quick tips I shared?

2. Fiji Airways partners with American Airlines

If you want to go to Fiji from the United States, use your American Airlines miles to fly Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific). Fiji Airways is one of several AAdvantage partners outside the oneworld alliance on which you can redeem American Airlines miles.

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To book Fiji Airways flights, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

Don’t forget American’s other partnerships with Etihad (Middle East and Indian subcontinent), Hawaiian (Hawaii and Asia/Pacific), Air Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia), and El Al (Israel), among others.

3. Alaska Airlines Serves a Number of Mexican Destinations

Alaska Airlines serves seven Mexican destinations from Los Angeles for 7,500 to 10,000 British Airways Avios one way.

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Plus you can fly from San Diego to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta on Alaska.

Alaska Airline award flights are not searchable on ba.com. Search them on aa.com, and then call British Airways at 800-AIRWAYS to book. British Airways should have access to all the Alaska award space shown at aa.com.

4. Transfer Your Ultimate Rewards to Airlines

The most beginner-oriented tip was given to two beginners who had just redeemed over 100,000 Ultimate Rewards for two roundtrip economy “awards” to Central America.

They had redeemed the points directly through the travel portal on ultimaterewards.com where you can book pretty much any cash flight and get 1.25 cents per point in value.

They’re really going to enjoy that trip, but they may have been able to book it cheaper by transferring Ultimate Rewards to airline miles and then booking true award tickets.

United, a 1:1 instant transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, charges only 35,000 miles roundtrip to Central America and generally has fantastic award availability on its partners Copa and Taca (Avianca.)

British Airways, a 1:1 instant transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, charges a varying amount of miles depending on where you live in the United States, and generally has good award availability on its partner, American Airlines’ flights.

5. Use British Airways Avios to Hawaii

Pay only 25,000 Avios roundtrip from the West Coast. Pretty unbeatable. Here are the cheapest ways to get to Hawaii with miles and otherwise.

Hopefully one or more of these five tips was unknown to you, and you can use them to stretch your miles farther. Dinner was delicious, and a small group of us stayed all the way until 9:30 PM to discuss miles and travel.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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5

Just a few spots remain for the dinner this Saturday, May 31 at 7 PM in Honolulu.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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6

I’m very excited to announce the second MileValue dinner on Oahu on Saturday, May 31 at 7 PM at a Thai place town-side.

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An unfortunately dark picture at the last dinner. I’ll use flash this time!

Some of the airline programs offer Hawaii-based flyers a drastically different value proposition than they offer mainland flyers, so it will be fun to talk to people from a Hawaii perspective that you don’t normally see on any blogs including this one.

Like past MileValue dinners, this one will be:

  • Free, other than the cost of your meal.
  • Split checks, so we can all show off our credit cards. 😉
  • Entrees under $20.
  • Limited to 30 people.
  • Open to people of all miles-knowledge levels.
  • Informational. There will be no prepared remarks, but I will be happy to answer all the questions that you may have about earning and redeeming miles or my recent travels.
  • Possibly full of secret info people won’t post online (and no, I won’t email it to people who can’t attend).
  • Social, a great chance to meet other people in this hobby from Oahu (or on vacation) and talk travel.

If you want to join the fun, there is only one way to RSVP:

Email me at scott@milevalue.com.

I am limiting this event to 30 folks on a first come, first served basis, so that I have a chance to meet everyone. (And I’ll do a better job of this than I did last time!)

Once you email me, I’ll get back to in a few days with the restaurant details.

I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar and new faces at the dinner. Remember there is only one way to RSVP for the dinner on Oahu at 7 PM on May 31: by emailing me.

If you won’t be on Oahu, hopefully I’ll see you somewhere else along me travels. I’m very likely to hold a Los Angeles dinner on September 20, 2014. (Don’t RSVP now. An official announcement will be made in September if this happens.)

Where should I host MileValue dinners in the future?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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28

There will be a MileValue meet up tomorrow (2/17/14) at The Australian at 20 W 38th St in Manhattan from 5 PM to 8 PM.

I’ve wanted to hold a meet up in New York City for quite a long time. Unfortunately I will only be there from Monday through Thursday, so I can’t hold a customary MileValue dinner. And I really apologize for not having my other plans set soon enough to give more than 24 hours notice.

But I hope everyone will be able to join me for Happy Hour at the Australian. I’ll make sure I am there from 5 PM to 8 PM, and others can come come and go as their schedule permits. I called and confirmed that The Australian’s Happy Hour will be from 4 PM – 7 PM as usual even though tomorrow is a holiday. The Happy Hour menu features steeply discounted food and drink.

Like past MileValue meet ups, this one will be:

  • Free, other than the cost of your food and drink.
  • Split checks, so we can all show off our credit cards. ;)
  • Open to people of all miles-knowledge levels.
  • Informational. There will be no prepared remarks, but I will be happy to answer all the questions that you may have about earning and redeeming miles or my recent travels.
  • Possibly full of secret info people won’t post online (and no, I won’t email it to people who can’t attend).
  • Social, a great chance to meet other people in this hobby from the New York area and talk travel.

If you want to join the fun, there is no need to RSVP. You can let us know in the comments though.

Where should I host MileValue dinners in the future?

PS: I have about a very, very few of these beauties left in Small and Large only if anyone wants one. First come, first served in person.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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19

I’m very excited to announce the first MileValue dinner since October on Saturday, January 25 at 7 PM on Oahu, either in Waikiki or Honolulu.

As a special treat, I’ve confirmed the attendance of Rene from Delta Points. Rene is the go-to expert on all things Delta from status, to the myriad credit card offerings, to redemptions, to aircraft, to getting bumped, to… you get the idea.

Delta and SkyTeam are major players from HNL.

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Delta is well represented at HNL. There are lots of SkyTeam flights from HNL including Korean’s flights to Seoul and Tokyo plus Alaska’s flights to many west coast cities.

Like past MileValue dinners, this one will be:

  • Free, other than the cost of your meal.
  • Split checks, so we can all show off our credit cards. 😉
  • Entrees under $20.
  • Limited to 30 people.
  • Open to people of all miles-knowledge levels.
  • Informational. There will be no prepared remarks, but I will be happy to answer all the questions that you may have about earning and redeeming miles or my recent travels.
  • Possibly full of secret info people won’t post online (and no, I won’t email it to people who can’t attend).
  • Social, a great chance to meet other people in this hobby from Oahu (or on vacation) and talk travel.

If you want to join the fun, there is only one way to RSVP:

Email me at scott@milevalue.com.

I am limiting this event to 30 folks on a first come, first served basis, so that I have a chance to meet everyone. Once you email me, I’ll get back to in a few days with the restaurant details, which I haven’t selected. (If you know a restaurant that fits the above criteria, let me know.)

I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar and new faces at the dinner. Remember there is only one way to RSVP for the dinner on Oahu at 7 PM on January 25: by emailing me.

If you won’t be on Oahu, hopefully I’ll see you somewhere else along me travels. And certainly be on the lookout for the announcement of a New York City dinner next month.

Where should I host MileValue dinners in the future?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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14

The Chicago Seminars wrapped up today after a weekend filled with information, networking, and free candy.

MileValue sponsored the event, so we had a table where I was giving out free t-shirts and information on our Award Booking Service.

I think everyone looks better in a MileValue t-shirt.

And here’s some of the best award bookers I know in front of the MileValue table.

At the table, I had printed some of my favorite photos from my nine months on the road this year, and there was even a contest where I awarded a $50 gift card to loyal reader Victor for correctly guessing the country of the three unlabeled photos. Care to venture a guess?

Some of your and my favorite bloggers were there including Frequent Miler, The Points Guy, Mommy Points, Delta Points, First2Board, Lucky, and many more.

I enjoyed talking to them, long time readers, and folks who hadn’t yet heard of MileValue. I was able to meet a lot of people over the meals, breaks, and after-hour drinks.

Unfortunately because I was manning a table outside the seminar rooms, I didn’t have a chance to hear very much of the actual presentations, though I heard good reports from folks who went to the presentations.

The event ran very smoothly thanks to Rick Ingersoll, Howie from the Frugal Travel Guy, and dozens of other volunteers.

I can’t wait for next year. If you haven’t gone to the Chicago Seminars, you are missing out.

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Also there was this hero and role model! (Yes, those are all credit cards. No, not all of his cards are pictured because he also had a few necklaces full of them.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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15

I arrived yesterday to Elk Grove, Illinois to get ready (and get over jet lag) for the Chicago Seminars tomorrow. My box of t-shirts to give away was waiting for me.

What’s my schedule for the Chicago Seminars? What’s the hotel shuttle information? How can you get a free t-shirt or win a $50 gift card?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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23

Update: The response has been overwhelming. The slots are all gone. In fact, I have the sad task of having to email some folks now and say they weren’t in the first 30.

I’m very excited to announce the first MileValue dinner since February on Saturday, October 19 at 8 PM in Los Angeles. (Cut me some slack–I haven’t been in the US since February.)

Like past MileValue dinners, this one will be:

  • Free, other than the cost of your meal.
  • Split checks, so we can all show off our credit cards.
  • Entrees around $14.
  • Limited to 30 people.
  • In the 90006 zip code at a delicious Mexican restaurant.
  • Open to people of all miles-knowledge levels.
  • Informational. There will be no prepared remarks, but I’ll answer all the questions that you may have about earning and redeeming miles or my recent travels.
  • Possibly full of secret info people won’t post online (and no, I won’t email it to people who can’t attend).
  • Social, a great chance to meet other people in this hobby in the Southern California area and talk travel.

Unlike past MileValue dinners, I’ve lined up some other awesome bloggers for the dinner:

If you want to join the fun, there is only one way to RSVP:

Email me.

Selfishly, I am limiting this event to 30 folks on a first come, first serve basis, so that I have a chance to meet everyone. Once you email me, I’ll get back to in a few days with the restaurant details.

I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar and new faces at the dinner. Remember there is only one way to RSVP for the dinner in Los Angeles at 8 PM on October 19: by emailing me.

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, hopefully I’ll see you next weekend at the Chicago Seminars!

Where should I host MileValue dinners in the future?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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18

If you’re going to the Frequent Traveler University this weekend, let’s meet up! At the last FTU meetup in Los Angeles, we were able to meet a ton of new people and put some faces to familiar names. Hopefully, we can engage some of our readers at this meetup too!

Although Scott will not be there, Bill & I (Tahsir) will be!

We scouted out a location that is rated highly by the locals and is also walking distance from the Hilton!

Upon choosing a suitable location, we decided on a casual place to get desserts and drinks over a sit-down restaurant.

Time: Saturday April 27th @ 7:30 PM

Location: Danielle’s Desserts. 1770 U. International Drive. Mclean VA 22102

Link to Dessert Bar

Meeting Point: We will meet at the lobby of the Hilton at 7:15 and take the 10 minute walk to the dessert bar!

Let us know if you can make it in the comments below or email us so we can gauge how many people to expect!

-Bill & Tahsir

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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60

I’ve hosted two MileValue dinners in Los Angeles that were both a ton of fun and informative. I know I learned a lot at each one. Throw in some good, cheap food and a chance to meet other travelers or reconnect with people from the Chicago Seminars or an FTU and it’s a recipe for a great Saturday night.

If you haven’t been, MileValue dinners are very informal. We get a big table (or more than one at the last dinner with over 25 readers), and I try to move around and talk to everyone. The conversation buzzes with tips too sensitive to be released on blogs and forums and general travel talk.

I’m scheduling three more, with the details on two set.

Los Angeles: Saturday, January 26 at 7:00 PM

Not much advance notice, but I want to have one more in my former home town before I move to Argentina. The location will be the same as the other two in the 90006 zip code since the Oaxacan food has been such a hit at the first two. Email me, so I know how big of a reservation to make, and I’ll give you the exact location. Hopefully we can talk Amol from hackmytrip.com into coming again. If you live near LA and missed the first two, this is your last chance until at least October.

Tampa: Saturday, February 2

The time and location for this one are not set because I don’t know the city very well. Email me if you are interested in coming to this one, and I’ll email you back very soon with the location and time. If you have a suggestion for a cheap, delicious, centrally-located restaurant that won’t mind splitting a check many ways and won’t mind if our actual party size doesn’t match the reservation exactly, include that in your email.

Baltimore: Saturday, February 9 at 7 PM

Bill has picked a burger place in the 21230 zip code. Email me if you want to join us for a bite and points talk.

I can’t stress enough how much value there is in networking with other enthusiasts. You will earn more miles more easily, travel to more places for less money, and fly more comfortably with easier award searching if you don’t play the game alone.

If you email me about a dinner, don’t forget to tell me which one you’re coming to. I probably won’t reply until the week of the dinner.

Am I missing your city? Where should I have a MileValue dinner in 2013?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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First, and most importantly, it was great to attend Frequent Traveler University hear all of the positive feedback about the blog. Scott has really created excitement over his creative oneway awards and expert routing knowlege. It’s a lot of fun to part of something special like this. I just hope to contribute a small fraction to MileValue now and in the future.

As I posted early Saturday morning, I didn’t really know what to expect in attending Frequent Traveler University. Scott was kind enough to invite me to Los Angeles, and I was excited to meet some of the folks I had regularly been communicating with to pick up a few new tricks. I certainly had some concrete goals I wanted to meet as well.

Let’s go to the report card and see how I fared in meeting all goals for the weekend:

Put faces to names. Solid B, though this grade should probably be a B-minus. Due to a work commitment, I was only able to hang out late Friday night and all of Saturday. Missing the Sunday sessions and conversations was frustrating, so hopefully I can attend all of Frequent Traveler University when it moves to Tysons Corner, Virginia next April. It was great to finally meet up with Scott and Tahsir in person. I was also able to briefly chat with Gary from View from the Wing and George from Travel Blogger Buzz. The next event should provide even better networking opportunities.

Learn from the masters. A-minus! Scott walked me through his impressive routing from South America to Europe via Africa. Tashir was able to give me some tips on booking a tricky award ticket for a family member to Trieste, Italy in April. I kept the pestering to a minimum, but their award travel advice was invaluable to me.

Pick up some tips on airline elite status. A-plus! The thought of losing Medallion status with Delta was terrifying, so I was determined to find a way to requalify. On the way to our great dinner at In-N-Out Burger on Saturday night, I picked the brain of the Frequent Miler. Along with his Saturday presentation on earning 5X points everywhere, he also offered some tips on amassing MQMs quickly in 2013. I can’t thank him enough for our chat. [Scott: I don’t know the exact tips, but here is a FM post on Mileage Running from Home.]

Master the ins and outs of hotel programs. Respectable C-plus. My goal was to brush up on Hyatt’s program, so it was good that there was a special session hosted by Todd Tomlin, who works at Hyatt. He was a former manager in their Gold Passport frequent guest program, so I made sure not to miss his session. His speech was more marketing-oriented than anything, but he surprisingly delivered quite a few laughs. The fact that he took two (!) mileage runs to Shanghai, China over Thanksgiving week proves that he truly belongs with all of us mileage nuts.

He also showcased some of the soon to be opening Park Hyatts in China, India, and even New York City. Those slides drew some oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

Eat some In-N-Out Burger. A-Plus. The walk from the hotel was a bit rainy, but I had great company along the way. It was pretty amusing to see the horror on all the In-N-Out cashiers’ faces when we descended en masse on their registers. It was even better when the cashiers exclusively received Chase Sapphire cards as methods of payment. I ordered a Double-Double burger (Animal Style, of course) and my coveted root beer float. The food was incredible, but the plane-watching was even better. We missed out on the A380s which arrived earlier in the day, but the landings made a nice backdrop to the whole meal.

On a side note, it was remarkable to see the aviation enthusiasts easily identify each landing plane within seconds of spotting it. [Scott: I can spot three planes–747s, A380s, and 737s (if painted in Southwest livery), so he isn’t referring to me.]

Swap Travel Stories. Scott is right on the mark. The best icebreaker with anyone at FTU is to ask, “Do you have any upcoming trips you’re excited about?” I just got back from a week in Kauai, and nearly every person I met had been there. It was pretty easy to carry out a lengthy conversation. I picked up some ideas and tips for my next big trip (debating on China or the Maldives) as well.

Again, I’m disappointed that I could only spend 36 hours in LA and had to miss all of the Sunday sessions, including Scott’s own about free oneways. Going for the entire weekend will be critical for the next FTU in April and the Chicago Seminars in October.

The burst pipe and lack of water on Saturday was actually pretty amusing. Someone remarked to me that they wouldn’t want to be in the hotel general manager’s position: staring at a hotel with no running water and 400 frequent travelers who know a thing or two about demanding politely requesting compensation.

Thanks again for the positive feedback that everyone shared about MileValue. It was great meeting every single one of you, and I look forward to doing more of that in April and October.

[Scott: Thanks, Bill, for the write up from the perspective of a first timer. I hope it helps anyone on the fence decide whether to attend a meet up like this for the first time. Once you do attend once, I think you’ll be hooked.]

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